Our Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wants £10 fines for missed doctor’s appointments here in the UK. As each missed appointment costs the NHS an average of £30 per person. With more than 15 million no-shows at GP surgeries every year. Charging for missed appointments apparently encourages patients to be proactive about their health and can prevent unnecessary cancellations or no-shows. But is charging patients for failure to attend really the answer? Or is this really just penalising the poor further?
Problems with the £10 Fines for Missed Doctor’s Appointments
How Much Will the Scheme Cost?
Let’s be honest how much of this money will go back into the NHS? The answer is most likely none!
The administration costs of running this – will there be extra phone lines, and people sending out e-mails/letters. Then chasing them up. Not to mention any potential legal fees if people refuse to pay!
Unless the scheme is literally just to allow more people to see doctors and that the scheme is actually going to cost the NHS money. Some may argue that if the NHS was actually funded properly in the first place then this wouldn’t be needed. Would such a scheme really be of benefit or just put more pressure on?
The Rich/Poor Divide
Now I am sure that most would think that those with money would just pay to go private anyway. That it is already near on impossible to get a doctor’s appointment. But let’s say that we look at all NHS patients, regardless of wealth.
It is the poor who are going to be penalised as the rich will be able to afford to pay the £10 fines. In fact will they even care?! Unless of course the fines will come with some sort of penalty points! It is also the poorer people who are less likely to have the means of having the technology or luxury of the time (or right times to contact the surgery) in order to cancel.
Will this actually resulting more people turning up at hospitals where they won’t be charged? Is the charge just applied to no-shows? What if the patient is running late? Perhaps because of the bus or train – again a problem more for those with less money perhaps?
Will there be Mitigating Circumstances for Missing Doctor’s Appointments?
Will everyone be fined regardless or will there be mitigating circumstances? Can you explain after the event why you were unable to attend? Such as problems due to mental health, disabilities (both physical and mental). Brain fog? Is death a good enough reason for a no-show or will the fine be charged to their estate?
Or perhaps a patient was never informed of the appointment – such as when the letter appears in the post after the event. Or the cancelled appointment that wasn’t logged on the system properly – will patients get some sort of cancellation receipt?
Other Opinions on the £10 Fines for Missing Doctor’s Appointments
There seems to be quite a divide in opinion as to whether this is a good or bad thing. This I believe is due to people feeling fed up of not being able to see their doctor.
Instead of looking to the government to fund it properly some are happy to blame other users. The bitterness sees them wanting people to be charged for appointments and applying to other areas such as dentists and opticians. The worst comment I saw was about regular offenders being named and shamed up on a list in the surgery.
Obviously not everyone thinks this is a good idea and suggests that patients will be able to charge the NHS every time they cancel too if it were the case!
I would be really interested on people’s opinions on this, especially those who work in the NHS or who are our future doctors.